Listening to US Secretary of State John Kerry try to explain and defend the P5+1 Iranian nuclear deal to various audiences is a spectacle to behold, regardless of one’s position on the best course of action. One of the people who might want to watch the sessions and learn something from John Kerry is John Kerry.
Secretary Kerry argued at the Council for Foreign Relations (CFR) that Congress must support the deal or it would undermine his ability to negotiate any treaty with any government in the future. At 29:55 of the CFR talk, Kerry said: “Other people in the world are going to sit there and say ‘hey, let’s negotiate with the United States, they have 535 Secretaries of State. I mean, please! I would be embarrassed to try to go out… I mean, what am I going to say to people after this as Secretary of State? ‘Come negotiate with us?’ ‘Can you deliver?’ Please!“
Kerry made the point that when two parties sit down to negotiate, it is critical for the sides to know that the negotiating parties are both authorized to negotiate and have the ability to fulfill their sides of the deal. If no such authority or ability exists, the discussions are an irrelevant waste of time.
Despite Kerry being quite clear about his logic, he has nevertheless insisted that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sit down and negotiate with Acting-President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas, even though it is clearly understood that Abbas can deliver nothing.
- No Mandate: Abbas’s four-year term as president ran out in 2009. No presidential elections have been held since then.
- No Authority: Abbas’s Fatah party lost legislative elections in 2006, winning only 33% of the parliament. No legislative elections have been held since then.
- No Support: Abbas lags in every Palestinian poll held since 2006.
- No Control: Abbas has no control of Gaza since his Fatah party was kicked out in 2007.
- No Track Record: Abbas has shown zero credibility in being able to strike compromises to govern his own people, let alone deliver compromises with Israel.
Despite the glaringly obvious impotence of Abbas, the Obama administration continued to pressure Israel to negotiate with this straw man.
The Obama administration publicly acknowledged that the Palestinian Authority has absolutely no ability to deliver peace a few years ago. During the Gaza war on Israel in 2012, then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tried to broker a cease-fire. She made a dozen calls to various world leaders to halt the war- but not ONCE called the Abbas and the Palestinian Authority.
Compounding the inherent flaws in Abbas and the Palestinian Authority is Abbas’s insistence on bringing terms of any deal with Israel to a referendum. Abbas stated that he cannot decide on the “Right of Return” for all Palestinians, but that each of the 5 million Palestinian Arab “refugees” must make a decision for themselves. Hey Kerry- 535 “second-guessers” looks pretty good compared to 5 million! In terms of the rest of the components of a final agreement, Abbas stated that he “would go to a referendum everywhere because the agreement represents Palestinians everywhere.” That’s impressive – he seeks the approval of 11 million “Palestinian” Arabs from all around the world!
Kerry’s comments regarding Iran are both on- and off-the-mark. Iran and all of the parties in the negotiations know that the United States is a democracy and the political process must run its course. Once the American people’s representatives in Congress make a decision, the government will deliver on its commitments.
However, Abbas – a complete straw man if ever there was one – with no authority or control whatsoever, openly states that millions of individuals will ultimately not only decide the fate of an Israeli-PA deal overall, but even on certain components on an individual basis.
Kerry fully appreciates that before negotiators start a process that they want to know the answer to the fundamental question: “Can you deliver“? However, he doesn’t care when he forces Israel to do exactly that with Abbas and the Palestinian Authority.
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